A team from the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) met with Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman on June 1st 2017 to discuss critical issues related to the forestry, mining and oil and gas sectors.
The team which was headed by GMSA President, Mr. Shyam Nokta, included Mr. Andre Cummings – Chairperson of the Forestry & Wood Products Sub-Sector, Mr. Norman McLean – Chairman of the Mineral & Related Industries Sub-Sector, Mrs. Glenis Hodge – Chairperson of the Services Sub-Sector and Board Member, Mr. Peter Pompey.
According to a press statement by the GMSA, the team gave recognition to the ongoing process of revising and updating the National Forest Policy and the National Forest Plan and promoting Lesser Used Species while highlighting critical challenges facing the sector.
The GMSA disclosed that the issue of VAT on forest products was raised where it was pointed out that this is affecting the competitiveness of the wood processing sector.
The GMSA reiterated its call for this decision to be revisited with a view to removing the VAT on forest products. To support its position, an assessment from the industry’s perspective has been prepared by the GMSA and will be put to Government. It was also pointed out that the competitiveness of local products is being challenged with imported substitutes and this adds to the challenge facing the local wood processing sector.
The issue of the UK ban on greenheart from Guyana was also raised and while some progress has been made which allows FSC certified timber to have market access, the GMSA urged that the issue be advanced to completion urgently to allow for a full lifting of the ban. In this regard, the GMSA expressed its willingness to provide technical support and be involved in the process to engage the UK Environment Agency.
It was pointed out that for several years now the forestry sector has been in decline and there is need for incentives to serve as catalyst to stimulate growth and expansion, particularly in the area of value-added.
Minister Trotman, in acknowledging the issues put forward, outlined Government’s commitment to review the issue of VAT on forest products and in moving forward on resolving the issue of the greenheart ban. He invited the GMSA to submit proposals for support to the Wood Sector, since the Ministry of Finance will start consideration for the 2018 National Budget in July 2017, the GMSA said.
The GMSA representatives also took the opportunity to discuss the mining sector where it was pointed out that diversification in this sector is critical. Mr. Norman Mc Lean, Chairman of the Mineral & Related Industries Sub-Sector pointed out that there is need for alternative methods for improved recovery of gold which can also reduce degradation. Mr. Mc Lean, who is also a representative of the Bosai Minerals Group, took the opportunity to appraise the Minister of the Manganese Project in the North West of Guyana and the initiatives planned, including rehabilitating the road from Port Kaituma to Matthews Ridge.
The oil and gas sector also featured in the discussions where the GMSA gave recognition to several initiatives being pursued, including the Oil and Gas Local Content Policy. The GMSA members indicated the strong interest of the organization and its members to learn more of the opportunities for local businesses in the various stages of the development of the oil and gas industry, from exploration to production, and to understand the requirements so businesses can start preparing. In this regard local content was identified as a critical area of focus for the organization.
According to the GMSA, Minister Trotman provided an overview of the developments in the oil and gas sector and committed to working with the local private sector. He indicated that his Ministry will facilitate a Local Content Specialist working with the GMSA on local content issues as part of the process of further developing and finalizing the Local Content Policy.